Cooum to be cleaned up?
There have been many statements to this effect in the recent past, including this one by Local Administration Minister M K Stalin. That the Sathya Sai Trust will fund this effort has also been stated before, but there is no clarity to what extent and when. This would be a wonderful achievement and a real gift to the people of Chennai. The river and its banks are a public resource that can be used for the public good for recreation, entertainment and relaxation in many ways if it is cleaned. The challenge, of course, is in keeping it clean, for which there will have to be a concerted effort to educate the administration and the public on the standards to be maintained. The bane of our rivers has been the outlets for untreated, raw sewage straight into them, as well as the dumping of garbage and all kinds of waste such as plastic bags. This will have to be stopped, and its easier said than done. So cleaning up the Cooum goes well beyond the physical cleaning up of the river and its banks to an ongoing effort to stop the sewage and garbage being dumped into the river. Can it be done? If there is the political will, and if the government can win the support of the people by sharing with them its plans for the river as a parkland and recreational area, I don’t see why not. The government has begun to move on its stated intent of resettling people along the banks of the rivers as part of its efforts to clean them up. So let’s hope this will also be done systematically.